"We're pleased to bring the CRISPR/Cas DNA editing technology developed in our laboratories into the clinic," said Bryan R. Cullen, Ph.D., the James B. Duke Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Duke University School of Medicine. "We look forward to adding Cocrystal to our team as they are committed to helping the development of potential new treatment options for chronic HBV and HPV infections."
"We are excited to explore the CRISPR/Cas technologies to potentially develop the first virus targeted genome modifying treatment that may be able to provide a cure for HPV and HBV," stated CEO, Jeffrey Meckler. "Worldwide, it is estimated 2 billion people are infected with HBV and this approach could potentially develop a cure for a serious unmet medical need. HPV continues to be the most common sexually transmitted infection despite having effective vaccines which are currently underutilized and most effective only when administered during childhood and adolescence. "
In recent years the discovery of clustered regularly-interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and CRISPR-associated proteins (Cas) has given scientists hope that they will be able to efficiently edit genomes with a high degree of precision and flexibility. CRISPR sequences are expressed in bacteria and match viral DNA in a way that defends against viruses. Cas is a related immune defense mechanism that works with CRISPR to slice through a virus's DNA and eliminate it.
This license agreement allows Cocrystal to develop and potentially commercialize a cure for HBV and HPV utilizing the underlying patents and technologies developed by the universities.